zucchini-leaves

The Leaves of a Zucchini Plant

Broad, flat, and lobed leaves are the most predominant feature of the zucchini plant. Located at the end of a long stem, they are the health indicators of the plant. Healthy leaves are dark green; although, some zucchini leaves develop silvery spots which are totally normal and healthy on some varieties. Colors of yellow, brown, black, white, or light green indicate plant stress.

Problems Afflicting Leaves

Many zucchini plant problems can be reversed if caught in time. There are solutions to most of the stressors that plague zucchini plants; however, there are some issues that cause a certain death to the plant. Some of the stressors that affect leaves are:

Cold Temperatures

When the air temperature suddenly drops below 50°F(10°C) and the soil temperature drops below 62°F(17°C), leaves may turn brown. To lessen the chances of this happening, plant only when the danger of frost is over.

Squash Vine Borers, Aphids, and Squash Bugs

All three of these pests cause yellowing and wilting of zucchini plant leaves. Each pest can be physically removed or controlled with natural repellents.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew causes leaves to turn pale yellow then grayish white. Proactive steps can be used to lessen the chances of infection. If infection occurs, there are natural remedies that are effective.

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew causes pale green to yellowish spots that later turn to brown. Sometimes a purplish gray fuzz will develop on the underside of leaves.

Bacterial Wilt

This disease causes leaves to turn dull green, wilt, then die. Controlling cucumber beetles may prevent the spread of this disease.

Mosaic Viruses

Mosaic viruses cause yellow and green mosaic patterns on leaves. The only cure is controlling aphids and cucumber beetles that spread the virus.

Other Attackers

Occasionally an insect such as a cabbage looper decides to completely devastate zucchini leaves. Other pests uncommon to squash can inflict the same damage. The damage ranges from tiny pin holes to the ultimate insect damage that results in lace-like leaves.

Pruning of Leaves

Pruning of zucchini plant leaves is not only safe but sometimes beneficial to the plant’s health. Some reasons to prune leaves are:

  • Insect egg infestation
  • Leaves overlapping other squash plants
  • Diseased leaves
  • Dead leaves
  • Insect chewed leaves
  • Too many low-growing stalks that have no fruit

Eating of Leaves

Everyone knows that the zucchini fruit is edible, but few know that the blossoms and leaves are too. Boiled or sauteed young leaves can be served hot, room temperature, or chilled in salads. Other recipes can include zucchini leaves also. If you decide to try them, do not use old leaves that are bitter.